... home to America's premier rocket engine test complex, the NASA facility where engines for all manned Apollo and space shuttle flights have been tested and where next-generation engines that will once again carry humans into deep space will be tested.
... home to an Applied Science and Technology Project Office that provides world-class leadership on behalf of NASA's science and technology goals, with a particular focus on supporting Gulf of Mexico-related research and coastal management efforts.
... home to more than 30 resident agencies, which includes federal, state, academic and private organizations and numerous technology-based companies.
John C. Stennis Space Center in south Mississippi is one of ten NASA field centers in the United States. Because of its important role in engine testing for four decades, Stennis is NASA's program manager for rocket propulsion testing with total responsibility for conducting and/or managing all NASA propulsion test programs.
Stennis tested the first and second Saturn V rocket stages for NASA's Apollo Program, including those used to carry humans to the moon. In fact, in the late 1960s and early 1970s, there was a saying in the communities surrounding Stennis, "If you want to go to the moon, you first have to go through Hancock County, Mississippi."
In 2009, Stennis completed 34 years of testing space shuttle main engines used on more than 130 low-Earth orbit missions. The high-performance, liquid-fueled engines provide most of the total thrust needed during the shuttle's eight and one-half-minute-flight to orbit. All space shuttle main engines had to pass a series of test firings at Stennis prior to being installed in the back of an orbiter. Stennis also provided testing for engine components, design modifications and shuttle-related needs as they arose.
Next-generation rocket engines now are being developed to help carry humans beyond low-Earth orbit once more. Stennis will use the A-1 and A-2 stands for early testing of the J-2X engine for possible use on future space flight vehicles. A new 300-foot-tall A-3 Test Stand under construction will provide simulated high-altitude testing. Using a series of chemical steam generators, operators at Stennis will be capable of providing rocket propulsion testing at simulated altitudes up to 100,000 feet, a critical requirement for engines that must fire in deep space.
A-3 Test Stand time-lapsed construction
In addition, NASA's new focus on partnering with commercial companies to provide space transportation is on display at Stennis. Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne tests its RS-68 engines onsite. Stennis also has partnered with Orbital Sciences Corporation to test the Aerojet AJ26 engines that will power cargo flights to the International Space Station. Orbital has contracted with NASA to provide eight cargo missions to the ISS by 2015.
Stennis' Applied Science and Technology Project Office uses NASA-generated science research, remote sensing and other technical capabilities to help partner agencies, such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, make more informed decisions. The office uses such resources particularly to support efforts of the Gulf of Mexico Alliance, a regional partnership of five U.S. Gulf states and 13 federal agencies, including NASA. Through the Applied Science office, NASA and the alliance are working on priority issues for Gulf Coast residents, including water quality, protection of coastal ecosystems and wetlands conservation and restoration.
The resident agencies at Stennis share the cost of owning and operating the facility, making it more cost-effective for each agency to accomplish its independent mission. The Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command, which includes the largest concentration of oceanographers in the world, is headquartered at Stennis, along with the Naval Research Laboratory, the Navy's corporate laboratory. Stennis also is the riverine warfare training ground for the Department of Defense's Special Boat Team TWENTY-TWO, and the headquarters of the Naval Small Craft Instruction and Technical Training School.
Stennis Space Center aerial tour
With its effective cost-sharing philosophy, state-of-the-art test facilities, highly-trained and professional workforce, and commitment to safety and customer satisfaction, Stennis is a model of government efficiency, providing American taxpayers positive returns on their investments.